Captain Ciro Pinto graciously accepts to take a selfie with one of the passengers of the 5-night MSC Musica cruise from Durban to Pomene Island. Judging from Pinto's body language, he's comfortable taking pictures with his guests, drawing his signature smile as one of the guests capture the perfect photo.
Around five selfies later, Pinto returns to our interview.
"Your guests are always a priority. I love seeing them smile, " he says. Pinto, from Sorrento Italy, has been in the industry for around 41 years.
While he never dreamed of being a captain of one of the world's leading cruise lines, Pinto embraces every moment. He joined MSC Cargo as a First Officer in 1993. A year later he was promoted to the rank of Master and given his first command of a cargo ship.
In 2007, he commanded his first cruise ship called MSC Melody.
Pinto is now on his sixth sailing period with MSC Cruises.
"My duty is to care for the safety of the passengers and the crew. I wake as early as 3.30 am when we disembark at a port. Most of the day is spent in meetings with the relevant teams to make sure everything runs smoothly," Pinto shares when asked what a typical day for him entails.
He spends four months on cruise ships, so everyone is like family. When he is at home for two months, he loves to travel with his loved ones.
South Africa is one of his favourite destinations.
"South Africa is a beautiful place despite the seas being rough. South Africans are friendly people who are great to be around."
While Pinto does not disclose much about saving guests and crew aboard MSC Melody during a 'pirate attack', he does reveal his secret to his famous chilli sauce( everyone I spoke with raves about it.)
"My family owns a restaurant in Sorrento, so I grew up learning about the food. My famous chilli sauce includes oil that I make from olives from a tree in my garden and chillies that I find during my travels.
"I like to combine the chillies I get from around the world, whether it's from Madagascar or South Africa," he reveals.
Pinto's advice for people who want to work on cruise ships: "You must love the job and do everything with passion and love."